By Kirsten Bublitz, The Catholic Sun
SEDONA — Bishop John Dolan celebrated a Healing and Reconciliation Mass for survivors of abuse and their families at St. John Vianney Church in Sedona, reminding all of us to ask the Divine Physician to heal our church and bring us to wholeness. The Mass was organized by the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Phoenix.
Dr. Anne Vargas, director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection explained that the Mass of Healing and Reconciliation for survivors of abuse and their families is celebrated twice a year, during Lent and Advent. St. John Vianney parish welcomed Bishop John Dolan and the staff of the Office of Child and Youth Protection with open arms. Newly installed pastor, Father Ignatius Mazanowski, led the congregation in a bilingual rosary dedicated to victims of abuse, as members of the community led the decades with everyone’s voices rising to Heaven no matter the language.
The Mass began with an unplanned moment as Bishop Dolan accidentally knocked over and shattered a glass during the liturgy of the word. The interruption ended up being a beautiful teaching moment used by Bishop Dolan in his homily. When the glass shattered, Father Nathaniel Glenn, parochial vicar, instantly rose to retrieve a broom and towel to amend the situation, while Bishop Dolan calmly brushed the glass under the table with his foot and continued Mass.
“There is a tendency to sweep that brokenness under the rug. To not clean it up, but to sweep it away, and then tragedy continues in the lives of those who have been abused,” Bishop Dolan said.
Bishop Dolan made a connection to the Gospel of the day — the account of the tax collector and the Pharisee. In the well known story, the Pharisee is thankful he’s not sinful like the tax collector, while the tax collector acknowledges his brokenness, beats his breast, and asks for mercy. Bishop Dolan observed that the Pharisee may have swept many things under the rug.
“We hear about this tax collector who acknowledges his sins and addresses them before his God right away, pounding his chest and recognizing his sinfulness as we do every time we come to Mass. Sometimes we beat our chest like [the Pharisee], acknowledging that we sinned but not really deeply focused on our sinfulness. The church, for generations, had not examined itself, and yet we carried on like the [Pharisee] beating our chest and examining others’ sins. Not focusing on what really mattered.”
Bishop Dolan emphasized that it is part of the mission of the church to walk with and assist victims of abuse and to educate ourselves and the clergy, using the Office of Child and Youth Protection as an invaluable resource to the diocese.
“We continue to examine our own consciences: are we doing enough, are we doing enough? The answer quite frankly is, no we can always do more.”
“In this season of Lent we are called to be not the [Pharisee] but the tax collector. To look at ourselves and really examine: are we people who sweep abuse under the rug?”
“As we prepare to celebrate this Eucharist today, let us ask our Lord Jesus who is the Divine Physician to heal our society, to heal our Church, to heal those who have been abused and those who are abusers, and bring them to wholeness. We don’t have to continue forever and always beating our chest. Let us trust and believe that our Divine Physician brings us to wholeness and that good news in our lives.”